Leadership in Default

November 24, 2015

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I'm Deb- CEO, worldwide executive coach, mentor, consultant and speaker. I'm here to help you take your leadership and impact to the next level!

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There’s a chart we’ve become familiar with the last few years: the U.S. Debt Clock. It shows some pretty staggering numbers and, even more, it shows the rapidity of change.

If you turn on the news, you will also see some staggering headlines, again revealing a rapid rate of change.

Both of these indicators are evidence of one thing: we have a serious case of “Leadership in Default”.

Whether it’s a country or a business or a household, if good leadership decisions and actions aren’t put into place, there will eventually be a default. Here’s a case in point – take a look at the government spending and personal debt numbers on the U.S. Debt Clock. Do they show good leadership actions and decisions? No, they show an increase in spending and debt. In essence, we’re spending more and more while the debt rises, and the income can neither support the spending nor pay off the debt.

This is leadership in default.

This is not about politics. It is about leadership.

Perhaps you’ve known of a company that went into default – declared bankruptcy. Several years ago, there was a Fortune 500 company that did just that. The leader of the company blamed everything from the economy to 9/11 to his own people. Yet, as the divisions were sold off and either absorbed into other companies or spun off into new entities, they became profitable…under new leadership.

More than anything, this was a case of leadership in default.

Everyone reading this article is a leader – of a family, a community organization, a small business, or perhaps a large corporation. If nothing else, everyone reading this article is a leader of himself or herself. And every leader has an obligation to be a responsible leader – to make solid decisions based on due diligence and take quick action to solve issues.


Apply this three-part formula for leadership, and it will serve you well:
Due Diligence + Decision + Action


Due Diligence

If you’re leading a company with serious challenges, be a leader, and take action to turn things around. Do your due diligence, not just from the top level, but from a cross-section of your company. Ask those at the grassroots level what they see and how they would improve the situation. If every department, for instance, could figure out a million dollar idea for creating revenue or reducing expense, this adds up considerably. Ask those at the management level what they see in terms of issues and solutions. Ask those who are your peers, those in other organizations who have had successful turnarounds, and outside experts for honest feedback and suggestions. Do your due diligence, and do it quickly.


This is where many leaders get stuck – at the point of decision. But as we see in many facets of society today, making no decision can very well be making a wrong decision. If you’ve done your due diligence and have a good idea of what decision needs to be made, make it!


Let’s be clear on one thing: Deciding is not doing. DOING is DOING. (Click to tweet.) If you’ve made a decision, lay out an action plan, and execute it. As a business leader, you know that very often the company that gets the contract or gains notoriety is not the one that is best, but the one that acts first.

Follow this formula, and make a difference. We as individuals can’t single-handedly control that debt clock. But if enough individual leaders take responsibility for their respective areas of leadership, we could begin to take the change in a new and better direction.